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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 25 February 2003

25 February 2003

25 February 2003 All medical staff who participated in the abortion of a pregnant nine-year-old in Nicaragua last week, as well as the girl's parents who requested the abortion, have been excommunicated from the Catholic Church. The excommunication was confirmed by the top education official of the archdiocese of Managua yesterday after Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, archbishop of Managua and head of the Nicaraguan bishops' conference, said on Sunday that all those involved in the abortion had been excommunicated automatically under canon law. The nine-year-old herself is said to be "stable" in hospital. [EFE, via Northern Light , and LifeSite , 24 February] Pope John Paul II has insisted that the integrity and dignity of every human being must be protected "at any stage of his development". In his address to participants at the ninth general assembly of the Pontifical Council for Life in Rome, the Pope urged scientists to avoid "every form of instrumentalisation or destruction of the human being". Strongly condemning experimentation on embryos, the Pope declared: "I am convinced that it is not permitted to anyone, much less so the Church, to be silent in the face of certain achievements or pretensions of experimentation with man." [Zenit, 24 February ] The US Supreme Court has upheld restrictions on abortion in Indiana which are said to be the strictest in the country. The justices turned down an appeal by abortion clinics against a state law passed eight years ago laying down certain conditions which must be met before an abortion can proceed. These include an 18-hour waiting period and the requirement for personal counselling during which a woman who has requested an abortion is presented with information on the risks of abortion as well as pictures of what her unborn baby may look like. Pro-abortionists described the judgement as "outrageous", but Mike Fichter of Indiana Right to Life warmly welcomed the conclusion of the long legal battle. The state law will now finally come into effect. [The Seattle Times, 25 February ] Hundreds of heart attack victims in a number of European countries are to participate in a major trial to determine whether a patient's own stem cells can be used to restore cardiac function. Professor John Martin, head of cardiovascular science at University College, London, explained that half of the patients would receive infusions of stem cells extracted from their own bone marrow, while the other half would act as a control group. [Reuters, 24 February ] The therapeutic use of adult stem cells is an ethical and more promising alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells and so-called therapeutic cloning. A prominent health expert in Russia has said that more has to be done to "stop the epidemic of abortions" in his country. Vladimir Serov, chief gynaecologist at the Russian health ministry, said that abortion was one of the primary causes of infertility in a country desperate to increase its plummeting birth rate. About 13 percent of all Russian couples are unable to have children, and abortion complications are implicated in as many as three out of four cases. It is reported that Russia's abortion rate declined by 45 percent between 1992 and 2001, but there are still about 1.7 abortions for every live birth. [Washington Post, 22 February ]

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